Bedtime is the pits. It's the time when the kids push all my buttons at once, try all their tricks, delay delay delay. The other night I was trying my best to stay calm and Frances was acting like a spoiled petulant 14 year old. Since we're at the grandparents', both kids were set up on air mattresses on the floor, with Mitch and me on the bed in the same room. Frances and I really got into it. Afterwards she wouldn't let me hug her, so I said that was okay, just said goodnight and hugged Clark, then I stood out on the hall to wait for her inevitable appearance at the door and to peek at her through the crack. At first she just sat on the bed and at the ceiling, the walls, the curtains. (I'd already threatened her with her life if her body left her bed).
"Clark," she said. No response. "Clark! I don't want Mommy to come back in here."
There was a pause, then "Why you not want Mama?" Clark asked, as if he hadn't just witnessed the conflict and subsequent wailing.
"Cuz she's bad."
Clark rolled over with his thumb in his mouth. Frances sat for a minute more looking up at the ceiling, then she started to make this funny loud grunting sound.
"Clark, I'm gonna make loud sounds to bother Mommy," she said. Which I thought was funny since she supposedly didn't want me back in there.
Clark sat up and looked at her. "But then I can't sleep good," he said frankly, and lay back down.
Finally she got up and wandered my way. She opened the door and saw me leaning there against the wall, and she just stood. I waited. Finally I said gently, "Did you need something?"
She waited another moment then said, "You're mean."
"I'm sorry you feel that way, honey," I said.
We stood and looked at each other a bit more, then I told her she could go to sleep on our bed rather than on the mattress if she wanted, and I would move her later. She turned and went back to her mattress. I kept watching. After a minute she got up and walked to the bed, where she curled up. I was getting ready to leave when she got off the bed and came back to the door. She walked right to me and wrapped her arms around me. I stooped down and hugged her, picked her up and sat her on my lap, and rocked her for a long time. I kissed her face and stroked her hair.
Finally she said, "I love you, Mama," and kissed me.
"I love you too," I said. "Are you ready to get in your bed?"
She nodded yes. Then she climbed off my lap and went into the room. At Clark's bed she leaned over to kiss him but he squirmed away, then she got in her bed, pulled up the covers, and went to sleep.